This is something I probably should have gotten to a while ago, but with us on the periphery of the chase for fourth, it's probably a good idea to see what our competitors are up to this weekend. I'll have the West Ham preview up tomorrow. There's only one league match that concerns us, however:
Man City v. Fulham (Sunday, 10ET on ESPN2)
Sadly, this doesn't look like one that will go our way, even with the goofy result that City can throw in from time to time. Fulham had their chance to pull one over Chelsea in their last league game, with Clint Dempsey having an injury time penalty that no US fan really ever thought he was going to bury (guess it's a good thing we didn't manage penalties against Ghana, the heartbreak would have been worse). In their last game they went out of the FA Cup to Bolton, and well, you're probably pretty aware of their travel sickness as the incubus of that disease infected us with that as well. City also just went through to the last 16 of the Europa League, with Edin Dzeko scoring twice which really isn't going to help anyone. They'll face a slightly tricky fixture against Kiev in that competition, but all their eyes will be on the league where they have to finish fourth at least. A lot is going to ride on their trip to Anfield, but for now we're only left to hope for miracles. Spurs and Chelsea are off this weekend, with Chelsea having a slightly minor encounter on Tuesday with some team down the M62.
As for the teams behind us, Sunderland face a trip to neighbors Blue Shite and Bolton are up in the northeast at the only slightly less basketcase club than us Newcastle (we still have a ways to go before that settles down). Both Everton and Newcastle are different propositions at home, and can do us a favor so we can open up some breathing space from those behind us.
Carling Cup Final - Arsenal v. Birmingham (11am EST Sunday on FSC)
While not a league game, it's always fun to root against Arsenal winning a trophy because if they actually manage it then a lot of eyes might turn to the fact that we haven't lifted anything since the 2006 FA Cup, and we're dealing with enough shit right now. Brum aren't exactly a force, but with Fabregas and Walcott going missing due to usual injuries and Arsenal's still-questionable psyche (though sadly getting less and less so) anything can happen. Also a loss here might rearrange their focus on the league, where I'd still take them winning it over that other team. Then again, if that psyche is still puppy-like a loss here could shatter their season - combined with the hiding I'm still convinced their getting at Camp Nou. Should make for interesting weekend.